Quarter of a million households in England put up with shoddy or unsafe homes out of fear of eviction, Citizens Advice reveals
More than 1 in 4 (28%) private tenants who have experienced problems while renting do not complain for fear of being evicted, new figures from Citizens Advice show.
Research released today reveals almost a quarter of a million households, who had issues and chose not to complain, said their main worry was their landlord raising their rent or ending the tenancy.
Based on their experiences advising private renters, more than 2 in 5 Citizens Advice staff (43%) said people “worrying about the consequences of complaining” was the biggest issue for tenants seeking redress for their problem.
Repairs and maintenance is the most common issue that private tenants needed help for from Citizens Advice.
More than 13,000 issues about problems such as mould, electrical faults and pest infestation were dealt with byadvisers in person, over the phone, by email and via webchat last year.
The national charity is calling on the Government to use the planned introduction of an ombudsman for private landlords to further protect tenants from “revenge eviction”.
A consultation into the plan - which also looks into naming and shaming rogue landlords - finishes today (Monday 16 April).
Last year Citizens Advice recommended all private landlords be required to join a dispute resolution scheme after it found 41% of tenants waited longer than is reasonable for repairs to be carried out.
As a result, one third (33%) of people gave up on asserting their right to repair, 13% paid out of their own pocket and 7% relocated.
Today’s report, Redressing the Balance, says tenants who rent privately face a complicated path for redress against their landlord when they have a problem with their home.
It also reveals:
Nearly half of renters (48%) did not think their landlord or agent had a complaints process.
Almost 9 in 10 Citizens Advice staff interviewed said people most often come for support after reporting the issue to their landlord or letting agent several times.
More than 1 in 7 (13%) tenants who experienced a problem didn’t complain because they were unable to contact their landlord or didn’t know how.
The charity says any redress scheme for private renters should be simple to use, with a single, recognisable portal through which tenants can register complaints.
It should have the enforcement powers to punish rogue landlords and mandatory membership so all renters are protected and landlords who “let-and-forget” are included.
Landlords who receive the most complaints should pay more towards the running of an ombudsman, keeping the costs low for the majority, the charity says.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“People who rent shabby or unsafe homes have few options when landlords let them down. Resolving disputes can be risky, costly and complicated.
“Our research shows many of these tenants fear eviction or rent hikes if they make a complaint about a problem including repairs, letting agents fees or deposit returns.
“We welcome the government’s proposal to extend redress to all private renters, bringing it into line with other consumer markets.
“However, for any scheme to be successful it must be simple, free and ensure renters are protected from losing their homes simply for raising a complaint.”
Notes to editors
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
- Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
- Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.